What will they think of next?

Cans of Spam
Cans of Spam, not the email variety

| One has to be impressed with the boundless creativity of spammers and phishers. This week brought two new candidates for the "Can you believe this?" list to my inbox.

The first was a typical email with a document attached.

beloved in the lord
Beloved friend in the Lord

In the past, emails like this with an attachment carry a virus of some sort in the attachment, counting on unsuspecting users to open the attachment, thereby infecting their computer. But so many people use anti-virus software nowadays that viruses in attachments are usually detected right away and the message quarantined. But this one made it through into my inbox.

A few things immediately caught my attention:

After taking appropriate precautions I decided to see what the urgent document was all about.

It seems that Mrs Johnson is a rich widow in South Africa who alas has, according to her doctors, only two more months to live. Accordingly, she has decided to distribute her vast wealth for the "development of the church in Africa, America, Asia, and Europe," and she apparently has some money left over after all this benefactoring because she is offering to transfer to my bank account "$5,600,000.00 USD … to the less privileged because I cannot take this money to the grave." She hopes I will use the money for that purpose because "I has [sic] come to find out that wealth acquisition without Christ is vanity." Of course, she is just waiting for my reply, and in the meantime "May the grace of our lord Jesus the love of God and the fellowship of God be with you and your family."

Toots, you're pfishing in the wrong pond! And one way to read this is that Mrs Johnson is accusing me of "wealth acquisition without Christ." I wish it were so, but it's not (the wealth part, not the without-Christ part).

The second came from an equally odd source, "Cougar PDE" bearing the subject line, again shouting, "FROM REGULAR COUGAR PRIVATE DELIVERY EXPRESS."

Cougar PDE
Cougar PDE

Again there are things to wonder about. Country code (il/IL) is Israel, and dovhcpa.co.il is identified as Bezeq International. I think this is my first spam from Israel.

The content of the message, however, relates to an exotic location, Cotonou, Benin Republic.

Furthermore, the message is atypically long, some 300 words, all in caps.

FROM REGULAR COUGAR PRIVATE DELIVERY EXPRESS,
POST OFFICE ADDRESS: BARNES ROAD P.O BOX 12720.
COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC.

ATTENTION:

THERE IS AN ATM CARD/BANK CHEQUE IN THIS OFFICE FOR YOU

THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT THERE IS AN ATM CARD/BANK CHEQUE IN THIS OFFICE THAT WAS DEPOSITED BY THE UNITED NATIONS ON THE 5TH OF THIS MONTH.

YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS WAS ATTACHED TO IT AND IS TO BE POSTED TO YOU. WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO CONTACT US FOR YOUR CONFORMABLE ATM CARD WHICH CONTAINS THE SUM OF USD $55.5, Millions UNITED STATE DOLLARS AS WRITTEN ON THE PAPERS AND SOME VITAL DOCUMENTS.

SO KINDLY GET BACK TO THIS OFFICE TO AVOID FRAUDULENT ISSUES CONCERNING THIS SERVICE.

THE COMPANY COUGAR DELIVERY EXPRESS, WAS SECRETLY FOUNDED ON THE 1ST JANUARY 2017,FOR THE SECURE DELIVERY OF ATM CARDS , HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY , GOVERNMENT FUNDS ETC. THE COMPANY WAS FOUNDED BY A RETIRED UNITED NATIONS ARMY, THE DELIVERY OF YOUR ATM MASTER CARD WAS OUR FIRST JOB THIS YEAR.

FOR YOUR DELIVERY.. WE NEED THE FOLLOWING

NAME..
ADDRESS...
COUNTRY...
STATE...
CITY...
POSTAL ADDRESS...
ATTACHED PASSPORT OR PICTURE
PHONE NUMBER

NOTE: THAT YOU ARE TO PAY FOR THE DUTY STAMP FEE OF $89.00USD. YOU ARE ADVISE TO SEND THE DUTY STAMP FEE THROUGH WESTERN UNION OR MONEY GRAM TO THE POST OFFICE WITH OUR PRACTICAL OFFICER'S NAME BELOW AND FORWARD THE PAYMENT INFORMATION TO THE POST OFFICE FOR THE IMMEDIATE STAMP OF YOUR PACKAGE .

RECEIVER'S NAME......DAVID NNE
COUNTRY.....BENIN REPUBLIC
CITY....COTONOU
QUESTION....WHAT FOR
ANSWER.....STAMP
AMOUNT......$89.00USD
MTCN#............?
SENDER'S NAME........?

NOTE: THAT EVERY CLAIMS HAS AN EXPIRING PERIOD OF SEVEN WORKING DAYS (7DAYS) SO YOU HAVE TO DO THAT VERY URGENT TO AVOID EXPIRATION.

THANKS
YOUR BEST REGARD'S,
COUGAR PRIVATE DELIVERY EXPRESS
FOUNDED 1ST JANUARY 2017

The United Nations is no piker, offering $55.5 million, about ten times what Mrs Johnson will donate! And it will only cost me $89 for a "duty stamp fee."

What I find really interesting is the supposed "company" detail in the message: "secretly founded on the 1st January 2017" by "a retired United Nations army" (I wonder which army that was!). What's more, this is the company's first job of the year! 

Apparently, however, I am not the only one selected for this boon, since the message is addressed to "Recipients."

I confess I had to look up to see if Benin was an actual country — my geography skills have definitely lapsed! And so it is.

Benin location in Africa
Location in Africa
coat of arms
Coat of arms

Benin, formerly Dahomey, is sandwiched between Togo and Nigeria. Its capital is Porto-Novo, but its "economic capital" is Cotonou, the address in the email. It's one of those dirt-poor African nations, once a Marxist dictatorship but now a democracy (or so they say). The gross domestic product is only $840 per capita, according to the World Bank, but the CIA puts it at $2,100. In either case, that's a whole lotta poverty.

Predatory behavior on the internet is apparently rife in Benin. The US Embassy in Cotonou as a page devoted to scams from Benin. Also did not know that the US State Department has a brochure on financial scams on the internet.

As they say, You learn something new everyday!

Last updated on Jan 12, 2017

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